College Culture-Early Graduation

“We weren’t learning stuff like this when I was your age,” says my father.

It was my first or second year in high school and I was stuck on a math problem. It was one of those pattern ones where you are given a few numbers in a particular order, then a few blanks, and you have to figure out what the pattern is in order to figure out what the other numbers should be in the blanks.

I had honestly been at it for about an hour, and decided to bring in the big guns. Also known as the Parents—the see all, hear all, know alls, as far as I was concerned.

I asked my mother first, but she immediately turned me away and replied, “I don’t remember all of this, Jazmine. Go ask your father.”

Growing up, my parents were constantly making comments about the material I was learning, and how in “their day” they had not learned that material at “my age, that grade,” or claiming to never even learned that material at all.

The bar is being set higher and higher for children to learn more material in school sooner. From age 4 to 18, Preschool through Senior High School, kids are in school for approximately 14 years straight, give or take a few months for summer and winter breaks. Then, after those 14 years are expected to go straight into college for 2 to 4 years. Then possibly after that, graduate school?

The pressure is on for children growing up in the U.S., the rate at which we learn is increasing, and we are feeling it.

“Approximately 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs will require some postsecondary education,” according to, and online resource with the goal to help parents prepare their children for schooling from kindergarten to college prep.

The website also mentions 60 percent, possibly higher now, are offering Advanced Placement courses.

In high school, I was encouraged to take dual credit classes through a local community college called DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College). The thought process being, if I could get my general education credits out of the way faster, I could get into my major earlier, and therefore graduate from college to enter the “real world” as soon as possible.

I found out this year that I wasn’t going to be able to graduate a semester early like I had planned, and at first I was extremely upset. I cried, and then I called my mom.

“Jazmine, you will be graduating on time,” my mother said laughingly, “There is nothing wrong with that.”

It was in that moment that I realized, maybe I went through this whole learning process a little too fast, and I had definitely been taking it for granted. Maybe I’m not ready to graduate quite yet.

I cannot be the only one who feels these pressures. In fact, I know I am not.

“I thought it would be a good idea to graduate early so I could get a job sooner,” says Christine Madsen, a student in her third year at Morningside College.

Madsen was a 2010 graduate from North High School here in Sioux City, where college courses for dual credits were offered from Western Iowa Technical Community College (WITCC).

Bringing in 20 credits to the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) her first year at college, Madsen was already ahead of the game.

“While at UNI, I took 18 credits both semesters,” explains Madsen, “I was planning on graduating early.”

After a year at UNI, Madsen decided return to Sioux City and attend Morningside College where her father is a professor. And it was also here, that after some careful thought Madsen began to rethink her decision to graduate earlier than the expected four years she was told it would take her to complete her major.

“Everyone is different, so it could be a good idea for some and a bad idea for others. College is something that comes around once in a lifetime. I have the rest of my life to work,” says Madsen.

On the other hand, there are many students such as Mariah Stauffer, another student at Morningside College. In her third year, but with enough college credits to be considered a senior at Morningside, Stauffer plans to graduate an entire year earlier than expected.

“After Morningside College I plan on going onto Medical School. I just wanted to get done with my undergraduate and move on because I knew I had a lot more school left,” explains Stauffer, “Also, I think I enjoyed the challenge of graduating early.”

Being a Biology and Chemistry double major, I’d say Stauffer definitely succeeded in overcoming such a tremendous feat.

These were just a few minor reasons for wanting to graduate earlier, however Stauffer added there was more to graduating early.

“I haven’t taken any loans out yet for school. If I stayed another year, I would be $15,000 in debt—not something I want,” says Stauffer.

A valid point made by Stauffer, the underlying reason to why students are trying to get through upper level education so fast? Money.

Upon asking a few others what their factors were for graduating early, I got similar responses to that of Stauffers.

“I think financial factors played a major role in my motivation for graduating early, and I also just thought it would be a good feat to accomplish if I could make it work,” says Kaitlin Gerber, a student who plans on graduating this spring with a Bachelors Degree in Biology.

“When I realized I could graduate early it was kind of a relief because of the whole financial [aspect], and the fact that I want to go to dental school which is an additional four years,” says Blake Schany, another Biology major and Chemistry Minor at Morningside.

Financial aid and further education are two major factors that should not be overlooked.

According to a story from the Associated Press on increasing student loan debt, “student debt has stretched to record number of U.S. households—nearly 1 in 5.”

The Pew Research Center located in Washington, DC conducted the research and found that 22.4 million households had college debt in 2010, which doubles from the number of households found in 1989.

I asked someone to estimate the average loan debt for the state of Iowa. Their guess: $80,000. Pew found the average loan debt for each state, Iowa’s being $29,598. Possibly not as bad as we all thought, but debt is debt.

Money, future plans, and the experience are three seemingly obvious issues that need to be tackled as children are growing up. My advice, take your time in figuring out which plan will be the best for you; whether it’s graduating early or not. The next chapter in your life will come soon enough. Also, make sure to educate your children on preparing for their future, but don’t rush them to grow up either. One day you might just look back and have your own, “We weren’t learning this when I was your age” moment, and maybe the light bulb will turn on.

Midterm-Book Review

Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War

Written By: Deborah Copaken Kogan

            An undermined woman who works as a war photojournalist among men, Deborah Copaken Kogan has deemed herself an alter-ego—Shutterbabe. In her book, Kogan depicts stories from her life going as far back as high school and a few memorable moments of her younger years. However, the real meat of the book is her journey as a young woman fresh out of college and wanting to submerge herself into the, then a male-dominated world, of photojournalism. Kogan seeks adventure both in her surroundings and career, as well as in her personal life. Being a Corporate Communications and Photography double major, and having been looking at photojournalism as a possible career, I really dug into this book. I feel I related fairly well to what Kogan had to say, other than her struggle to fit in as a woman. We are in more modern times now. It was her struggle to really find her niche with the possibilities almost being endless, and to find what it was that was really going to be “fulfilling” in her life, that’s what got me.

Kogan graduated from Harvard in 1988, and since has worked as a photojournalist, television producer, and writer. Her photographs, which is a huge part of her book, have been published in Time Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, and sold for numerous other publications. She’s been all around the world, having even lived in Paris for quite some time as soon as she graduated college. She was asked to apply to Magnum, a prestigious photographic cooperative that only hire the best of the best. I can only hope to amount to half of the accomplishments this woman has been renowned for in my lifetime that she achieved in her twenties. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mrs. Deborah Copaken Kogan.

On another note, the overall book’s set-up… I found it to be a bit odd at first, and actually I still think this. The chapters are named after lovers she had from the time she was assigned her first war story with the ever mysterious and moody Pascal, to the man she chose to settle down with and make a family, Paul. I honestly just wonder what all of these men are thinking, or if they have even read the book.

Also, Kogan has very interactive transitions and stories that keep the reading, certainly myself, wanting to continue and not put the book down. One minute she’s speaking in first person, the next it’s dialogue, and then BOOM—some flashback that adds to the experience or anecdote she is trying to convey.

I was pleased with the descriptions as well. Being a book about, not only her career, but the interpersonal workings (more so) of her life, Kogan was definitely emotionally involved. Describing what she saw working: watching junkies shoot-up, men being blown-up by landmines, and a Romanian autopsy on a dead orphan that affected her in a tremendous way. Kogan definitely gives everything she has to offer in her experiences and “adventures in love and war.” This was NOT just another news story for her by any means.

One thing that really got me through out the book, however, was how in the world was she remembering all of these conversations verbatim?! She was reciting dialogues from at least ten years prior to writing the book. Is it justifiable because the book is on her life and the way she saw it, and is the reader supposed to believe everything? That whole thing just kind of through me off.

Overall, a really sound book. I would definitely recommend it, especially people considering photojournalism as a career. It had me thinking the entire time and relating my life to what she was going through. Kogan gives great insight on the matter, and some tremendous life lessons along the way.

I think, I feel, I believe.

I believe that people are inherently good. A bunch of human beings doing what they think and believe to be good—but that’s just it. Starting with “individuals” in the first place. A group of people all brought up differently both nature and nurture-wise. Therefore, what is good to one person may be morally wrong to another. Nonsense.
After realizing this some time ago, I think Alice definitely had it right.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what it is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would.”
Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, may his soul rest in peace. This man described my feelings on good versus evil, wrong versus right, my thoughts on morals and ethics so perfectly. I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.
I understand everyone should have an opinion, and right now in my twenties I am in a prime position to figure out where I stand. I sometimes find myself empathizing for people who are acting on what they see to be correct, however society has deemed it socially unacceptable.
I want to have opinions. I want to speak with conviction. The hard part for me is justifying how my opinion on a subject can hold any greater importance from that of the next person.
I want to understand, and I want to see the angles and perspectives from which others see and draw from in order to produce their beliefs. However, the more I try to understand, the more lost I feel.
I believe that people are inherently good, but how good must one be to be considered a good person?

Red Box Review

“Red Box Review”

A Clockwork Orange has very little to do with a clock or an orange, and more so to do with a young man and his “droogs,” or in other words “friends,” or even “gang.” Based on the dystopian novel “A Clockwork Orange,” written by Anthony Burgess in 1962, the general theme tends to be old vs. new. The setting aims for futuristic, and the made up language that comes from Burgess’ novel, although a bit frustrating at first, is what draws people in, in the first place.

I’ve been trying to get around to reading the book for quite sometime, but without the newer print that comes with a glossary to help figure out the dialogue, I haven’t gotten around to it. I feel like the visual with the new language that the movie brings definitely was a better option for a visual learner like myself.

In the beginning, I was a bit horrified to say the least. A couple of rape scenes, an epic amount of violence, and a milk bar with furniture resembling nude, shackled women.

At one point I had to stop the entire movie, turned to a friend and explain to them what I was seeing. I was baffled, horrified at what was taking place. Although the rape scenes were mild, compared to modern movies such as “Last House on the Left,” the 2009 remake, and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” I’m still not a person to stomach rape, or that amount of violence that was typically taking place before the rape, very well.

Alex, the narrator, and his “droogs,” set out every night in their sleek, futuristic looking car with matching white outfits, combat boots, make-up, and black hats to reek havoc over the town.

Alex is obviously the leader of the group, but as time goes on, one of the “droogs” decides he’d like to try calling the shots for a while. Alex makes it seem like he is okay with this, however, later that day on their way to create some more chaos, a fight breaks out among the friends. It ends with Alex cutting one of his “droogs” hand, a trust issue, like a wrench, is thrown into the friends mix. With three “droogs”, now verses one, you could imagine things weren’t going to end well.

Later that night, after Alex and everyone seems to be over the little rough and tumble they had just hours earlier, they decide to try to sneak into a woman’s house on the edge of town. The only problem is, Alex will have to sneak in first to unlock the door. Once he’s in, the door is unlocked, but sirens are wailing in the distance getting closer and closer, Alex runs to the front door to leave, only to be met by the “droog” whose hand was cut earlier and a glass milk bottle to his nose.

Alex is down and out, the “droogs” get away, and the cops arrest him.

Alex is faced with 14 years in jail, and being the cunning kiss-ass that he is, tries everything in his power to try to reduce his sentence. He befriends the priest at the prison, and inquires about a certain treatment that would lead him to getting out sooner. The priest doesn’t think it’s a good idea. “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man,” states the priest speaking of the so-called “treatment.”

Alex goes anyway, the treatment takes place, and he is released out into the world once again, but can he survive the world with a new mindset and a new distaste that makes him want to ralph every time he’s faced with violence?

I give this movie a 3 out of 5 stars. I think that there are a lot of good anecdotes and themes strung along here that people can surely get a lot out of it. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring Malcolm Mcdowell as the narrator Alex, I think the story line has a lot to say, and afterwards the viewer just needs to sit and come to terms with everything they had just seen. It’s a lot to take in.

It’s rebelling at its finest, it’s the young having at go at the old, and the old struggling to stick to what they know.

Scavenger Hunt Exercise

It’s a white box of a building with old dressers, vanities, and couches lining the walls outsides of the front doors. I had driven by it so many times before, but this time I had finally stopped and taken the time to go inside.
As I was walking in no one was there to great me. I think I may have passed the owner outside, two people had been unloading a van with more “antiques.”
The signs advertised that this place I had never been before was an antique flea market. I could barely contain my excitement.
It was spacious, that’s for sure. The only things separating one makeshift room from the next were sections of metal chain-link fences possibly 10ft tall.
It appeared that each makeshift section was given a number, and these sections are rented out for people to use to sell whatever they want.
Some sections have themes. I remember one section being wholly dedicated to Coca-Cola and NASCAR, and another to what appeared to be hair extensions made from yarn. I wish I was kidding.
Other than the occasional themed parts, a lot of them looked the same. Glass bottles, vintage beer cans, dishware, seasonal/occasional Barbie dolls, records, etc.
Walking around there seemed to be strategically placed radios. The first one I cam across happened to be playing “Hurts So Good.” Only fitting to have “oldies” playing. In this case oldies meaning anything from the early 90’s and before.
Later I also heard bits of “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Barracuda.”
I began feeling nauseated after breathing in 30mins worth of dust, mothballs, and possibly black mold, so I left. However, not before hearing the owners phone go off. His ringtone sang “I’m sitting at a bar on the inside, waiting for my ride on the outside. She stole my heart, in the trailer park…”
I was gone.

Meet the New Boss (Leads Exercise)

In my News Feature and Writing class we’ve been discussing “leads,” the varying types, which work, and which ones don’t. For this exercise we were asked to pick a story and generate three different leads.

“Meet the New Boss” was a feature article written by Josh Eells in Rolling Stone’s August 30, 2012 issue. A portion of the article can be found HERE.

The original lead struck me as possibly being a mix of Contrast, Setting Scene, and maybe even Anecdote. Here are the three leads I chose:

Quote – “It wasn’t like he turned into Rick Ross overnight.”

Question – What do William Roberts, a corrections officer, and Rick Ross “The Boss,” an avid pot-smoking, rap mogul, have in common?

Contrast – He’s the only man alive with a diamond encrusted medallion of his own face, drops $500 on a meal for himself, and has 40 different rides to choose from on a day to day basis. What you don’t know about Rick Ross “The Boss,” legally named William Roberts, is…

Rick Ross “The Boss” on the cover of Rolling Stone’s 1164 Issue

Coke/Pepsi Story

Right now, if I asked you if you needed something, what would you say?

Would it be a new car? Money? Perhaps you are needing something on a more intellectual basis like inspiration, motivation, or knowledge.


For this assignment, with the only instructions being to hand out 12 individual sodas and to record the experience, I decided to create the illusion of giving people what they “need” with the help of a Coke can, or 24.


I wrote down needs that people would really have to consider, for instance: a second chance, time, faith, courage, etc. Then, upon realizing I was planning to hand these out on a hill to a bunch of kids who had been tailgating all afternoon in preparation for the first Morningside football game of the season, I decided to throw some other “needs” in the mix. These “needs” went along the lines of: chaser, more beer, an athletic bone, sleep, etc.


The reaction of these 18 to 23 year old Morningside College students and their responses to what a “need” was interested me.


So I walked up the massive hill with my crate of Coke cans, and as I’m trying to keep my footing halfway to the top, I see a woman running towards me.


“Is that beer? Do you have beer?” she asked.


“No, but I have a refreshing Coke,” I responded, trying my best to sound convincing, I found this to be a great opportunity to figure out how the rest of the students would possibly react.


The woman gave a disappointing, or maybe even disapproving, sigh and walked away.


That is when I thought, Oh great… These people don’t want refreshing Cokes! They want alcohol, booze, more beer! How are they going to take to this project? However, I continued my trek up the steep hill, and decided I wasn’t backing down. More so because that was one giant hill, and my apartment seemed forever away.


Curiosity arose as I walked up to the group of hill-goers, or as they like to refer to themselves “Allee-holics,” a student formed group named after our Allee-Verdoorn gym on campus. They have deemed themselves the unofficial, slightly obnoxious, cheerleaders for all the sports games (especially football, basketball, and volleyball).


I hadn’t quite thought through my approach… Should I walk up to people and ask them to pick one, or should I just set the crate down and let people respond to it however they want?


I opted for the first approach, at least at first. I went up to a group, two guys and one girl I knew from the soccer team. She wasn’t drinking, so I figured she could use a Coke.


“Whaaat is thisss?” asked one of the boys in a suspicious almost criticizing tone.


The girl in the group recognized what I was doing and tried to explain, which I was thankful about.


“Take what you need,” she began, “You have to pick something that you need right now.”


Then, she reached for the can that read “More Beer,” which I found to be pretty fitting.


In the meantime the second boy in the group had been reading them over, he had selected the can that read “A Second Chance,” but after having reading the rest of them he put the can back.


“Time,” he read, and opted for that can instead.


With my inquiring mind, and the fact that this was all an assignment for my News Feature and Writing class, I asked him why he had changed his mind.


“Because with time, I wouldn’t need a second chance. I would just have more time to do things,” he said.


I don’t know if I would have used that choice of words, but I think I understood what he was getting at.


The first boy had selected during that time the can that had read “Sleep.” With his bloodshot eyes it definitely looked like he could use more. Or, that could have just been the effect of the amount of alcohol he had probably ingested prior, either way.


After the group of the three walked away, I found people just pointing and staring. I’m not one to enjoy being the center of attention, so I thought I would now go for the second approach.


The Allee-holics had been done grilling for sometime, so I sat the crate on a ledge protruding from the grill. Then I placed the sign that read “Take What You Need” above the crate, and walked away.


For a while the crate was ignored, even avoided. However, the more alcohol intake, the more snoopy people became.

Why do we “need” stories?

In our reading for today, Banaszyknski describes stories as being “prayers, parables, history, music, and even our soul.” I really liked how she took that extra step in explaining “stories” rather than just the giving us the basic answer or baseline of all of those listed, which is communication.

As humans we all just have this “need,” another need, and that is to understand. Understanding one another and understanding ideas and theories in general, I believe makes people feel closer. Communicating stories allows us to do that, and therefore the “need” for stories is present.